The Health Department of Northwest Michigan warned people who spent the holiday weekend at Torch Lake to monitor themselves for coronavirus signs and symptoms.

By Rachel DeSantis
July 13, 2020
Michigan State Police
Michigan State Police

At least several people who attended an annual Fourth of July holiday bash at a crowded Michigan lake have tested positive for coronavirus, leaving the thousands of attendees exposed.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan issued a statement warning the public that “several individuals” tested positive for COVID-19 after partying at the Torch Lake sandbar over the recent holiday weekend.

The statement said that “numerous” people may have been exposed to the virus and that anyone who was there should monitor themselves for coronavirus signs and symptoms.

“The positive cases were not able to offer identifying information for all potential contacts and therefore we want to make the public aware that those who attended could be at risk for exposure and additional cases could be seen in the coming days,” the statement said.

Video of the weekend shared to YouTube showed people crowding the waters of the lake in Antrim County, with little to no social distancing in place, and few people wearing face coverings.

Thousands of people were estimated to be in attendance, according to UpNorthLive.

“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,” Health Officer Lisa Peacock said in a statement. “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. We can’t stress enough how that it is imperative that we each do our part to stay safe and stay open.”

Prior to the weekend, Antrim County Sheriff Dan Bean told UpNorthLive he felt as though this year’s festivities would be among the most highly-attended in over a decade.

“I believe because of COVID-10, everybody being at home for the last 3½ months, the heat that’s going to be here and the amount of people that are coming north now to vacation … I think it’s going to be one of our biggest years we’ve had since I’ve taken office in ’09,” he said.

“As far as the general public it’s going to be very difficult for us to handle the social distancing and mask-wearing,” he added.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s recent executive order that mandates masks in public indoor and crowded outdoor spaces went into effect on Monday, according to MLive.

Michigan’s stay-at-home order expired on June 1, though by July 1, bars in most of the state were ordered to re-close indoor dining services, The New York Times reported.

As of Monday afternoon, the state has seen at least 76,936 cases and 6,317 deaths, according to the Times.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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