County quarantines may not be on the rise, but COVID-19 cases still are


It has been nearly two weeks since the revocation of St. Clair County’s COVID-19 quarantine order, and so far the number of new cases reported each week continues to rise.

As of October 1, the day the county health department rolled back its quarantine rules, 398 new cases had been reported in the previous seven days.

On October 8, another 502 were reported. And on Wednesday, there had been 322 reported in the past five days.

It is this gradual increase that health officials have reported as the county waits to see the full effects – if any – of the canceled order, especially in schools, where complaints were high last month. from parents whose children have stayed at home.

However, the fact that people always follow quarantine recommendations may not be the main concern of health officials.

“The cancellation shouldn’t cause this problem because those willing to follow strong public health recommendations should continue to do so,” County Medical Officer of Health Dr. Annette Mercatante said in a statement this week. “Those who don’t listen weren’t listening before.”

The county health department withdrew its health quarantine order on September 30, citing wording from the state budget that allegedly withheld public health funding. He demanded that those who were not vaccinated and identified as close contact COVID to stay at home for up to 10 days.

Quarantine numbers for early October were not immediately available this week.

As of October 2, the majority were still students, according to provisional data from the Department of Health. In the week starting September 26, young people aged 5 to 18 made up 125 of 460 total coronavirus cases, but 214 of 348 known quarantines.

From September 7 to 13, they accounted for 61 of 319 cases and 193 of 252 quarantines.

Dr. Annette Mercatante, right, listens to public commentary at a meeting of the Council of Commissioners on Thursday, October 7, 2021 in Port Huron.  Last month, Mercatante, the St Clair County medical officer of health, was asked to reverse a public health order.  She didn't, but it was two weeks later.

Mercatante: health officials must prove themselves “a new concept”

During a question-and-answer session on Facebook, Mercatante told residents she was disappointed that mitigation measures to limit the spread of the virus, such as wearing masks, were no longer being followed – a feeling that ‘it then extended to quarantine recommendations.

When asked if this could lead to more pauses in in-person learning at local schools, Mercatante said, “The combination of too many sick people and the inability to manage cases will result in breaks in schools. I am quite sure of it.

On Monday, the Department of Health focused on its broader mission – something Mercatante said residents can often lose sight of.

“Much of what we do is NOT happening because of prevention efforts,” Mercatante said via email. “… Most of the time, our response to the fight against infectious diseases is not at the forefront of community awareness, as we often work behind the scenes to protect the health of the public.

“With COVID, our work has come under the scrutiny of those who have never studied infectious disease or epidemiology, and those who have never lived through a time when widespread infection has called into question the good. -being of a community. It’s understandable that some are confused or surprised by what we’re doing, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be dismantled. The purpose and value of public health has been established for centuries and improved through knowledge and experience. The need to prove ourselves to the general public is a new concept, quite frankly, and one that takes away the time we need to do our jobs. It’s frustrating, but we’ll do our best to balance our work and communications accordingly. “

Outbreaks are also on the rise in local schools

Mercatante said school districts in the county appear to be trying to follow the health department’s recommendations after the quarantine order, although “sometimes they just don’t get the cooperation they need.”

And in the days after the order was lifted, several school officials in the area said they largely allowed families to choose whether children were quarantined at home.

Alan Latosz, superintendent of Algonac Community Schools, said that after seeing too many long periods of combined quarantine for many students in the past year, allowing this choice has been “fine” as it keeps children in. the classrooms.

Still, he said that doesn’t mean they completely neglect security.

“We recommend that they quarantine, and if they choose not to, we recommend that they test after a few days,” Latosz said in a recent interview. “But at this point, none of that is mandatory. The only time this is required is if the student tests positive or you are a close contact and you are presumed positive, which means you have symptoms.

Yale Superintendent Kurt Sutton said families appreciated being able to make the choice based on the exhibit after many parents “expressed concern over the impact of quarantines” on “well-being social and emotional “of their children.

“For students who test positive, they have to self-quarantine as they have done throughout this year and last year. For students who have been in close contact, our staff performs contact tracing and provides notification to parents to decide whether their child will be quarantined or not, ”he said via email last week. “We continue to follow the things that are mandated by the SCCHD as we have been doing throughout this year.”

Yale Public Schools, however, were not seeing the number of reported COVID cases and new or ongoing outbreaks as high as others in the region. The district saw two reported cases in September and one in its high school on October 5; there have been no outbreaks this week recorded by the state, which updates a list every Monday.

Algonac has also not been listed by the state as an epidemic. The district reported two cases of COVID for the two weeks of September 13 and 20, three more at Millside Elementary the week of September 27, and two cases of students and staff last week.

Elsewhere, Capac Community Schools has reported four cases since the start of the school year.

Marysville Schools, the only local district to report the number of identified close contacts, has listed nine confirmed and probable cases, most in elementary schools in Washington and Gardens last month. As of October 1, 12 cases have been reported in schools in the district.

The district reported 25 close contacts in September and 53 so far this month, most of them high school students.

Schools in the Port Huron area, the county’s largest district, have reported the most cases of COVID-19 and have seen the most outbreaks reported by the state, including this week.

More than 100 cases were reported last month and 65 so far this month.

According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, six new outbreaks were reported this week in St. Clair County at local schools.

A case with three students was reported at Morton Elementary School in Marysville. There was an outbreak with seven cases of students at Landmark Academy in Kimball Township.

For schools in the Port Huron area, there have been outbreaks with four cases of students each at Holland Woods and Central colleges, and others with three cases each affecting students and middle school staff. Fort Gratiot and Port Huron High School.

There were four ongoing outbreaks in the state-listed county, initially reported earlier this month and in late September.

Contact Jackie Smith at (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ Jackie20Smith.


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