Torch Lake sandbar listed as probable coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure site

A large group gathered at the lake during the Fourth of July weekend

Health officials have named the sandbar at Torch Lake a probable COVID-19 exposure site after a large gathering took place over the Fourth of July weekend.

RAPID CITY, Mich. – The Torch Lake sandbar has been listed as a possible coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure site after a large number of people gathered there over the Fourth of July weekend.

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan says several people who visited the sandbar have tested positive for COVID-19.

Anyone who visited the potential exposure site last weekend is being asked to monitor themselves for COVID-19 symptoms, which can develop up to 14 days after exposure.

If symptoms do arise, individuals should get tested for COVID-19 and self-isolate while awaiting results. To get tested for COVID-19, contact your primary care physician or visit a no-cost testing site in Michigan.

Michigan is currently seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases, on trend with much of the U.S. The state reported 653 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Saturday -- the highest one-day total in Michigan since May.

In response, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered that face coverings be worn in all indoor public spaces and some outdoor spaces to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Businesses will also be required to refuse entry or service to those who don’t comply with face covering requirements.

READ: Violation of Michigan mask order now a misdemeanor subject to $500 fine

A number of Michigan counties have been moved into “medium to high risk” and “high risk” zones following numerous COVID-19 outbreaks. The Torch Lake sandbar is grouped into the Traverse City region on the MI Safe Start Map, which is currently labeled as a “medium risk” for the spread of COVID-19.

How COVID-19 Spreads

Person-to-person spread

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

Can someone spread the virus without being sick?

  • Spread is possible before people show symptoms. People who are not showing symptoms can still be carrying the virus and can still pass it on to other people.

Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces or objects

It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads.

How easily the virus spreads

How easily a virus spreads from person-to-person can vary. Some viruses are highly contagious (spread easily), like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. Another factor is whether the spread is sustained, spreading continually without stopping.

Prevention & Treatment

There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

Click here for more guidelines from the CDC.

People who think they may have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact their healthcare provider immediately.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Read more about COVID-19 here.

About the Author:

Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.