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A member of the Michigan Army National Guard conducts a nasal swab to test for COVID-19 in the parking lot of Turtle Creek Stadium in Traverse City in May. Another testing event will happen there on Oct. 19.

TRAVERSE CITY — Authorities on Wednesday reported a third COVID-19 death in Grand Traverse County this week.

Grand Traverse County Health Department announced Wednesday its 12th death to the pandemic disease, a man in his 70s. Officials said he died Tuesday.

Health officials on Monday announced the death of a Grand Traverse County man in his 80s and then Tuesday confirmed the death of a local woman in her 80s. The man died on Saturday, while the woman died Monday.

That means 25 percent of Grand Traverse County’s coronavirus deaths happened within the last four days, according to statistics.

“With three deaths in the past week, continued vigilance of monitoring for symptoms, staying home when sick, wearing a mask and keeping 6-foot distance when around others is more important than ever,” said Wendy Hirschenberger, health officer for Grand Traverse County.

Munson Healthcare officials reported Wednesday that nine patients remain hospitalized across its three designated COVID-19 units: six in Traverse City, two in Cadillac and one in Grayling.

Overall, 31 people have died of COVID-19 while being treated at Munson hospitals since the start of the pandemic, a hospital official confirmed.

Meanwhile, health department, tribal and federal authorities partnered to offer three community testing events for COVID-19 next week.

Those seeking a test only needs a Michigan driver’s license or state identification card. A doctor’s order is not required, officials said.

The no-cost testing events will be:

  • 12 to 4:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, at Turtle Creek Stadium (home of the Traverse City Pit Spitters), 333 Stadium Dr., Traverse City;
  • 12 to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at the dune climb parking lot at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, 6748 S. Dune Highway, Glen Arbor;
  • and, 12 to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 21, at Crystal Mountain Resort parking lot, 12500 Crystal Mountain Dr., Thompsonville.

The events were organized among multiple agencies, including the Grand Traverse County Health Department, Benzie-Leelanau District Health Department, the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, and the Michigan Army National Guard.

The drive-through events will provide diagnostic tests, not antibody testing. Anyone who tests positive for the pandemic disease will be contacted by their health department.

Hirschenberger said increased testing is essential with the onset of autumn and the return of in-person learning in schools.

“With colder weather comes many of the typical cold or flu symptoms. Those symptoms are also symptoms of COVID-19, so getting tested is important because you might think you have a cold, but it might be more,” she said in a written statement.

The health officer explained that identifying those with COVID-19 and isolating them from others is the key to stopping continued transmission.

“Increased testing is an instrumental part of assessing risk to keep the numbers down in The Grand Traverse region,” Hirschenberger said.

Lisa Peacock, health officer for both BLDHD and the Health Department of Northwest Michigan, said the mass testing opportunities will both help meet testing demands and help officials accurately monitor the pandemic risk.

In related news, health officials announced additional possible COVID-19 public exposure sites across the region.

Those places and times of concern include:

  • Thirsty Fish Sports Grille, Traverse City: 10 to 11 p.m. Oct. 9
  • Shirley’s Cafe, Mancelona: 8 to 10 a.m. Oct. 11
  • Meijer, Petoskey: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Oct. 11
  • Turtle Creek Casino, Williamsburg: 7 p.m. to 12 a.m. Oct. 11-12
  • Foundry Bar & Grill, East Jordan: 5 to 6 p.m. Oct. 12

Medical officials encourage anyone present during those times at those places to self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19, particularly if not wearing a mask or practicing physical distancing.

Those self-monitoring are meant to keep away from the public, family, close contacts and roommates as much as possible, officials said.

Symptoms of COVID-19 include fever, cough, shortness of breath, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle aches, repeated shaking with chills, headache, sore throat and a new loss of taste or smell.

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