ANTRIM COUNTY, MI – A Northern Michigan health department has said it was notified that several people who attended last weekend’s huge Fourth of July weekend party on Torch Lake have tested positive this week for COVID-19, leading health officials to label this year’s annual Torch Fest as a potential exposure site.
The Health Department of Northwest Michigan is urging anyone who attended the multi-day boat and sandbar party to monitor themselves for symptoms of coronavirus. If people develop signs of the virus – mild to severe respiratory illness with fever, cough or shortness of breath – they are urged to seek testing. People also should be tested if they put themselves at high risk of exposure there by being in close proximity to others, or not wearing a face mask, the health department said.
Thousands of people are estimated to have attended the Torch Lake festivities. Drone photos taken by the Michigan State Police show boats clustered around the long lake’s famed sandbar area with hordes of people standing hip-to-hip in the water.
“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,” said the department’s health officer, Lisa Peacock.
Contributing to the large question mark surrounding the Torch Lake exposure is that the people who tested positive could not tell health officials in their home counties exactly who they had been in contact with at the event. This made it impossible for health workers to notify everyone who may have been exposed, which is why the health department made the notification public on Friday.
“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,” Peacock said. “We can’t stress enough how that it is imperative that we each do our part to stay safe and stay open.”
COVID-19 symptoms may show up anywhere from 2-14 days after someone is exposed to it. If you are self-monitoring because you may have been exposed to coronavirus, health officials advise that you should stay away from other people as much as possible, and limit your travel.
Anyone with questions about their potential exposure may call the health department at 1-800-432-4121.
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