Environment a focus as health officials start to shift to normal operations | News, Sports, Jobs

News Photo of Crystal Nelson Nick Scallion, who is visiting Alpena for work, took a break in Blair Street Park with his dog Luna on Tuesday afternoon.

ALPENA – The employees of the District Health Office No. 4 are resuming day-to-day operations as the number of COVID-19 cases is falling and interest in the vaccine is waning.

Although they continue to offer limited services related to COVID-19, public health officials can once again focus on their normal operations such as monitoring public beaches.

Environmental Health Director Kevin Prevost told the No. 4 District Health Department on Tuesday that his department will begin monitoring public beaches for E. coli from next week.

Prevost said environmental health workers will focus on Starlite Beach and Blair Street Park in Alpena Counties, as well as other beaches and inland lakes in Cheboygan County.

Prevost said the tests are important because people could come into contact with the E. coli bacteria while swimming. He said that when people swim, they also take in water.

“High E. coli levels in the water tend to make people sick.” he said.

Prevost said there are standards that public health officials follow, and as long as the beaches are below those standards, they can remain open.

Prevost said the Department of Health received funding from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy to monitor the beaches.

Meanwhile, Devin Spivey, community health director and epidemiologist for District Health Departments No. 2 and 4, said COVID-19 is now a normal reportable condition, just like the flu or other communicable diseases the Department of Health is tracking.

Spivey said 153 cases of COVID-19 have been reported since the board’s last meeting in May, which is 560 fewer cases reported than the previous month.

Spivey said health department officials also gave 655 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, which was about a quarter of the vaccinations given in the previous month.

Emergency preparedness coordinator Matt Radocy said the Department of Health has scaled back its COVID-19 vaccination clinics and is now maintaining a clinic once a week in each county. He said the Ministry of Health is also focusing on running pop-up vaccination clinics across the community and will attend the Alpena Farmers Market on July 10 for a pop-up event.

With the board returning to face-to-face meetings, the health committee approved its rotation of meetings for the remainder of the year. The District No. 4 Health Committee meetings are scheduled for the third Tuesday of the month at 10 a.m.

The July health committee meeting will be in Cheboygan County, its August meeting in Montmorency County, its September meeting in Presque Isle County, its October meeting in Alpena, its November meeting in Cheboygan, and its December meeting in Montmorency County .

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