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Eastern U.P. public health officials are trying to get back to pre-pandemic operations

JC Gellidon

As COVID-19 cases trend downward, public health officials in the eastern U.P. are finding it difficult to transition back to somewhat “normal” operations.

Before the pandemic, Kerry Ott of the Luce, Mackinac, Alger, Schoolcraft (LMAS) District Health Department had many jobs.

But for the past two years, being the only public information officer took over her life. Ott said COVID-19 is all she’s thought about and it’s been challenging to shift her attention to other public health matters.

“It was exhausting. I worked a lot," said Ott. "And now I'm trying to get my mind back to what it was like prior to the pandemic”

Ott said the presence of the BA-2 variant in all 50 states combined with spring break travel could lead to more outbreaks in mid-April. But they may appear on a local level instead of a nationwide surge.

For the month of March, the LMAS District Health Department reported 117 positive COVID-19 cases and 8 deaths and has maintained a 59% vaccination rate.

Ott and her staff are adjusting back to other public health concerns like mental health.

“There's just not easy access without driving considerable ways to get services," said Ott. "We have seen some improvement in some of our counties. But it's not enough to serve everybody.”

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