Several test positive for virus after Torch Lake Fourth of July celebration

Karen Bouffard
The Detroit News

Health officials are asking people who celebrated the Fourth of July on the sandbar at Torch Lake in northwest Lower Michigan to self-monitor for COVID-19 after several of the people who partied there tested positive for the coronavirus. 

The Health Department of Northwest Michigan issued a press release Friday saying it was informed of the cases by another health department, which was not named. It didn't say how many cases were associated with the Torch Lake festivities. 

Hundreds of boaters gather at the annual Torch Lake sandbar boat party on the Fourth of July in Northern Michigan.

According to the press release, case investigations of the people who tested positive determined that "numerous individuals" may have been exposed to COVID-19 on the sandbar. 

"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 press release said.

The coronavirus pandemic and calls for social distancing have had little noticeable impact on Michigan's traditional summer boat and lake parties, held when watercraft tie together for communal swimming and drinking.

MORE:Gathering at Diamond Lake Sandbar draws hundreds, minus masks

Thousands gathered in a remote part of Lake St. Clair for the annual Jobbie Nooner bash in late June and hundreds partied in close proximity at Diamond Lake in West Michigan's Cass County. The Torch Lake sandbar party on July Fourth was another highly attended event.

MORE:Jobbie Nooner parties on despite pandemic: 'We're allowed to be out'

People who were at the Torch Lake sandbar over the Fourth of July weekend should self-monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. They should seek testing if they develop symptoms, or if they were at high risk of exposure due to being in close proximity to others at the sandbar, or not wearing a mask or face covering, officials said.

“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," Northwest Michigan Health Officer Lisa Peacock said in the press release. 

"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.”

People who are self-monitoring for coronavirus symptoms should keep away from others as much as possible and limit their travel, according to health officials. Symptoms may appear between two and 14 days from the day of exposure. People who wish to be tested for the virus should wait five days before getting tested, and self-isolate until they get the results. 

Symptoms can range from mild to severe, and could include fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of taste and smell, or diarrhea.

Individuals who develop symptoms should call their primary care physician or local health department to request testing. The Health Department of Northwest Michigan can be reached at 1-800-432-4121.

Twitter: @kbouffardDN