Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s administration stopped Wednesday recommending that masks not be worn in schools or other public places in Michigan to curb COVID-19. This was in response to a decline in hospitalizations and cases.
The state health department’s action came just days after the 10 county health agencies that had K-12 masking requirements were rescinded . This was effective at the end of the month. They are used to cover 39% of the state population.
This is great news for Michigan. “This updated guidance will highlight that we are getting back into normal,” the Democratic governor stated about the new guidance.
The state encourages masking in high risk congregate settings like prisons and health care facilities, as well as by individuals in isolation or quarantine.
Whitmer also signed legislation Wednesday to allocate $1.2 billion to federal aid for fighting the coronavirus. This includes funding for health care providers who are understaffed and to retain employees with bonuses.
The law provides $300 million for hospitals to offer financial incentives. They can use $150 million to continue screening and testing in schools and $367 million to speed up processing at laboratories.
The GOP-led Legislature overwhelmingly approved the measure.
The funding includes $100 million to treat patients early with therapies to counter the worst effects of the virus, and $70 million to grant adult foster care homes and homes for the elderly. To improve infection control, there is $39 million available for nursing homes.
Recent pandemic highs have seen a decline in the number of cases and hospitalizations. About 1,800 adults were hospitalized in Michigan with confirmed cases, a decrease of nearly 4,600 from a month ago. The average daily number of new infections in the seven days was approximately 2,200, which is 12% lower than the peak.
According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the state is currently in “recovery” after a surge. Two other phases were also announced: “Response,” where the public might be advised to increase masking and testing, and social distancing; and “Readiness,” which is when officials are more open about the risks and when there will be a new surge.
Elizabeth Hertel, state health director, stated that individuals and their families should evaluate their risk of COVID-19 transmission and exposure. She also suggested that they make decisions about whether wearing masks is a good idea. We want to ensure that individuals and communities have the information and tools to make informed decisions for their families, based on their individual circumstances and conditions in their local communities.
Michigan Republican Party called the new guidance with the mask changed a “win” and a “true testimony to the power parents’ voices have,” but accuses the governor of acting out of fear in an election year.
The state recommends that everyone over 5 years old be vaccinated. 62% of those vaccinated are complete.