Michigan Urges Masking Indoors, Vaccines as COVID-19 Surges

David Eggert

November 19, 2021

Editor's note: Find the latest COVID-19 news and guidance in Medscape's Coronavirus Resource Center.

LANSING, Michigan (AP) — Faced with spiking COVID-19 infections, Michigan health officials said Friday that they will issue a public health advisory recommending that everyone over age 2 years wear a mask at indoor gatherings regardless of their vaccination status.

They also said businesses should implement policies ensuring that customers and employees are masked. They stopped short of requiring face coverings.

The officials pleaded with people to get the coronavirus vaccine, a flu shot and, if eligible, a coronavirus booster dose as the state finds itself dealing with a fourth surge in cases since the pandemic started. The step came before the holiday season, when families in the state with the country's highest 7-day case rate will gather indoors to celebrate.

Roughly 73% of Michigan infections, 72% of hospitalizations, and 76% of deaths were among the unvaccinated or those partially vaccinated over the most recent 30-day period for which there is complete data, said Dr Natasha Bagdasarian, the state's chief medical executive.

"Today, we are at another crucial point. We have a chance to turn the tide and these rising numbers. We have done it before. But whether or not we do will depend on everyone in Michigan," said Elizabeth Hertel, the director of the state Department of Health and Human Services.

The agency will recommend face coverings but not require them, keeping with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's shift away from such mandates earlier this year.

Metrics presented on a call with reporters are "quite troubling," Bagdasarian said.

The positivity rate was above 15% in all regions and higher than 20% in three — Grand Rapids, Saginaw, and Jackson. The case rate was trending similarly to the state's curve in the fall of 2020. COVID-19 hospitalizations, meanwhile, were at 77% of their peak last spring.

The health department, citing guidance from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued specific recommendations for holiday gatherings. People gathering with multiple households from different areas of the state or country should consider precautions such as getting tested for COVID-19. Universal masking is urged in households where someone is unvaccinated, at increased risk of the virus, or has a weakened immune system.

Follow David Eggert at https://twitter.com/DavidEggert00.

For more news, follow Medscape on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.