Michigan stops urging masks in schools and other public places | Michigan News

By DAVID EGGERT, Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s administration on Wednesday stopped recommending the wearing of masks in schools and other public places to curb COVID-19 in Michigan, indicating a decline in cases and hospitalizations.

The state health department’s step came days after the 10 county health agencies with K-12 masking requirements rescinded them, effective later this month. They cover about 39% of the state’s population.

“This is good news for Michigan. Although Michigan has not had statewide mask policies since last June, these updated guidelines will underscore that we are getting back to normal,” the Democratic governor said of the updated guidelines.

The state continues to urge masking in high-risk gathering places, such as health care facilities and prisons, and by people in isolation or quarantine.

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Also Wednesday, Whitmer signed legislation to spend $1.2 billion in federal aid to fight the coronavirus, including for understaffed health care providers to recruit and retain workers with bonuses.

The law allocates $300 million to hospitals and nursing homes to allocate financial incentives as they see fit, $150 million to continue testing and screening in schools, and $367 million to expedite treatment in schools. laboratories.

The measure had received overwhelming approval from the GOP-led legislature.

It includes $100 million for treating patients early with therapeutics to blunt the worst effects of the virus and $70 million in grants to adult foster care facilities and homes for the aged. There’s $39 million for nursing homes to improve infection controls.

Cases and hospitalizations have declined from recent pandemic highs. The number of adults hospitalized with confirmed cases in Michigan, about 1,800, was down from nearly 4,600 a month ago. The seven-day daily average of new infections was around 2,200, or 12% of the peak.

Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services said the state is in “recovery,” a post-surge phase. The other two newly announced phases are “response” – when the public may be asked to increase masking, testing and social distancing – and “preparedness”, when a new surge is expected and officials communicate more with the public about the risks.

“Individuals and families should assess their own risk of exposure and transmission to COVID-19 and make choices about when it makes sense to wear masks,” the state health director said. Elizabeth Hertell. “We want to ensure that individuals and local communities have the information and tools they need to make choices for their families based on their personal circumstances and local community conditions.”

Michigan’s Republican Party called changing mask guidelines a ‘victory’ for students and a ‘true testament to the power of the parent voice’, but accused the governor of acting ‘solely out of fear during an election year. “.

The state continues to recommend that all residents age 5 and older be vaccinated. About 62% are fully vaccinated.

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