By Jon King /

Livingston County’s total COVID-19 case count is approaching 1,000 as local health officials have confirmed another elderly resident has succumbed to the disease.

On Tuesday, the county confirmed its 29th death and the first since June. The man was described as being elderly and suffering from an underlying health condition. While all of the county’s deaths have been among people over the age of 50, officials with the Livingston County Health Department say they are seeing an increase in positive cases in younger age groups as a result of parties and other social gatherings. As of Wednesday, the county’s case count stood at 996 (805 confirmed and 191 probable), with 97 residents requiring hospitalization and 662 having recovered. However, there has been an increase of 171 cases sinceAugust 1st. By comparison, there were only 82 additional cases in the first 19 days of July.

Livingston County’s Medical Director, Dr. Juan Marquez, issued a letter last week for all county parents due to the increased cases among the younger age groups. In the letter, posted below, Dr. Marquez said that as school staff and teachers work to prepare their classrooms and schools to be as safe as possible, they were requesting parents to assist in keeping children safe while they are outside of out of school as well. “We are finding that medium to large gatherings (i.e. graduation parties, birthdays, etc.) are leading to increased transmission in our older children. This poses a risk to the child as well as his/her friends, family, teammates, and schoolmates. While it is true that most children have a less severe course of illness, this is not true for everyone and there are serious complications that can arise. Additionally, older family members and other community members can experience serious negative health effects including hospitalization and death.” Dr. Marquez added that for every child that is diagnosed with COVID-19, it is likely that their class, team, or fellow club or band members will need to be quarantined for 14 days. If entire classrooms and sports teams have to be quarantined, “schools will not be able to stay open, even in the context of low community transmission…”

Earlier this week, Brighton Area School’s Interim Superintendent Laura Surry, sent out an email to parents in the district confirming that a staff member at the BHS band camp reported symptoms associated with COVID-19. “After reviewing the matter with the Livingston County Health Department, the District was directed to treat the situation as if the individual had tested positive for COVID-19. The testing process is underway. Students who were potentially exposed were notified and directed to self-quarantine while the Livingston County Health Department conducts its contact tracing to identify close contacts. Due to the limited nature of this exposure, we are able to continue band camp activity otherwise.” Band Director Gabriella Hoffman followed up with WHMI Friday and said the test had come back negative and all of the kids were back at camp.

The health department is asking that in order to prevent similar issues from occurring, kids be encouraged to wear a mask when they are out in public including spending time with friends; wash their hands; socially distance by staying at least six feet apart, avoiding medium to large gatherings and staying home if they are sick or even just experiencing mild symptoms.

Statewide, there have been nearly 95,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday with 6,368 deaths, according to statistics from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.