Update on COVID-19 in Our Community

November 24, 2020

UP Health System's top priority continues to be protecting the health and safety of our patients, providers, employees, and the communities we serve. Like our fellow healthcare providers, we continue to be challenged by the concerning trend of COVID-19 in our local community and across the nation. 

The number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise rapidly across the country, and the same is true here at home in the Upper Peninsula. In fact, COVID-19-related hospitalizations have reached an all-time high across the U.S. since this public health crisis began. 

Importantly, this crisis is not isolated to urban areas and larger cities - COVID-19 is a very real problem in the smaller communities we serve, as well. Small towns and rural areas across the country and across Michigan have seen a rapid acceleration of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks, and our hospital has felt the impact. Unfortunately, the continued surge and prevalence of COVID-19 has the potential to overwhelm the local healthcare delivery system, which is why we all must do our part to protect ourselves, our healthcare workers, and our communities. 

With up to 40 percent of those infected showing few to no symptoms, the virus can spread quickly. Combined with cooler temperatures and our annual flu season, we are facing what could be a particularly challenging fall and winter. We strongly urge our community members to be even more diligent in their efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the months ahead. 

We are prepared to handle an influx of patients and expand the capacity of our facilities if needed. We continue to closely monitor the prevalence of the virus in our communities and build upon our hospital's emergency operations plan, which maps out - among other things - our escalation plan in the event of a surge of patients. We cannot speculate on what could happen over the coming weeks and months, but we can assure everyone that we are working hard to plan for all of these scenarios and adapt our hospital operations to safely care for and support our community during this evolving pandemic. 

More than eight months into the pandemic, we simply cannot let our guard down - and you can rest assured that the UP Health System team won't. But it is going to take all of us being extra cautious and taking every possible preventive measure to change the course of the pandemic and avoid a greater healthcare and economic crisis. 

We call upon every community member in the Upper Peninsula to lead by example - wear a mask over your nose and mouth, wash your hands frequently, practice social distancing, and avoid group gatherings. 

Together, we can make a difference and make our communities healthier.

Mitch Leckelt, CEO
UPHS - Bell

Gar Atchison, CEO
UPHS - Marquette
Market President
UP Health System

Ed Freysinger, CEO
UPHS - Portage