The health officers and medical directors of the six health departments in the Upper Peninsula are reaching out to U.P. residents to inform them that in the past few weeks, the Upper Peninsula has seen a dramatic increase in positive cases of COVID-19. The region has gone from being considered “low risk” for infection to “medium-risk” and moving towards “high risk.” Infection rates have increased from two to four cases per million population per day to 32 through Monday for the U.P. overall. The counties bordering Wisconsin have been especially hard hit seeing an average of 74 cases per million population per day with Gogebic at 123 cases per million population and Menominee County at 84 as of July 21.

Multiple factors have contributed to the sudden rise in cases, including an influx of people from outside the area who have brought the virus with them. Data collected on cellphone movement indicates that Upper Peninsula residents have increased mobility more than those in the Lower Peninsula. This may account for why people in the Upper Peninsula, who test positive for COVID-19, are reporting more close contacts than those testing positive in the Lower Peninsula.

Public Health said it is equally, if not more, important now than it was in April and May to limit travel (locally and distant), reduce the number of people encountered, maintain physical distancing, and to wear a mask in public.