Washtenaw County issues advisory as COVID cases near ‘substantial’ levels

The Washtenaw County Health Department is now recommending masking in indoor public spaces.

ANN ARBOR – The Washtenaw County Health Department issued an advisory on Wednesday morning, strongly recommending mask use in indoor public settings as COVID cases continue to rise.

According to the CDC COVID Data Tracker, local transmission may soon reach “substantial” levels.

The Health Department is urging anyone eligible to receive the vaccine but who hasn’t yet done so to get the shot as soon as possible.

List: Washtenaw County Health Department COVID-19 vaccine clinics in August

Currently, Washtenaw County is at “moderate” transmission, but will likely increase to “substantial” this week or next. Neighboring counties have already reached substantial levels of transmission.

“Additional precautions are needed, and we must take them seriously,” health officer for the Washtenaw County Health Department Jimena Loveluck said in a statement. “We know how to slow the spread of illness. We are asking everyone to mask up indoors in public settings. Get vaccinated if you are eligible and have not yet done so.”

The county is now reporting roughly 30 new daily cases and the test positivity rate has risen to 3.4%.

“It is incredibly frustrating to be facing another wave of COVID. At the same time, we are optimistic that vaccinations will continue to be effective at preventing severe illness or death,” Loveluck said in a statement. “Vaccinations can change what we see in the coming weeks drastically – but only if we use them and all of our prevention tools effectively.”

Everyone over the age of 12 is eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. The Health Department currently offers the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson shots.

The CDC recently recommended that everyone in areas with high or substantial levels of transmission should mask, regardless of vaccination status.

The highly contagious Delta variant is circulating and is presumed to be behind the latest wave across the country. Some vaccinated people can contract the Delta strain and become contagious, according to the Health Department.

Read: University of Michigan: All students, faculty, staff must be vaccinated by Aug. 30

“Virtually all hospitalizations and deaths continue to be among unvaccinated individuals, locally and elsewhere,” read a Health Department release. “The vaccine’s first job is to prevent serious illness or death. Some cases occur among fully vaccinated individuals, which is expected. Cases in vaccinated individuals tend to be mild. The Health Department continues to monitor hospitalizations by vaccination status.”

COVID testing at home

The Health Department is now providing free rapid testing kits for residents to take home through the “Say Yes! COVID Test Challenge.” Those living in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti can request home delivery online.

Test kits are also available for pick up at Health Department vaccination clinics or at pop-up clinics around Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. The rapid antigen tests may be used by individuals ages 8 and up. Kits will be available until mid-August.

More COVID testing information and guidance is available at www.washtenaw.org/covid19test.

For more information, visit the Health Department’s website.

About the Author:

Meredith has worked for WDIV since August 2017 and was voted one of Washtenaw County's best journalists in 2019 by eCurrent's readers. She covers the community of Ann Arbor and has a Master's degree in International Broadcast Journalism from City University London, UK.